DIY Painted Rug Inspired by West Elm

I don’t know about you, but I LOVE area rugs! They instantly change the way a space looks, and are an easy {and temporary} way to add color or pattern to a room.

However, if you are on a tight budget {like us} then you may quickly realize that the area rug you want is out of your price range, boooooo.  But then that’s the beauty of DIY, am I right? You can find a style you like and then re-create it in a way that reflects your personality, without spending a ton of money. All it takes is a little bit of time and patience. Trust me, if I can do it, so can you!


Today I am sharing how I created a DIY painted Rug inspired by West Elm, for just $20!

I had originally planned to paint the rug I currently have in my office/studio but after coming across a pattern I loved,  I realized I could get the same look with just a sharpie. In case you missed that post or want a refresh you can see my West Elm Inspired Rug here {pictured below}. If you plan to use a design with more lines and less filled in shapes I would definitely recommend the sharpie route. It’s easy, looks great and the rug still feels super soft!

DIY Sharpie Rug

However, if you are looking to fill in patterns and shapes with more color then you may want to try out the painted rug route.

West Elm Inspired DIY Painted Rug:

One day while browsing the West Elm website I came across the  Phoenix Wool Dhurrie rug and instantly fell in love. The geometric/kilim pattern was fun, simple, classic and modern all rolled into one. It seemed perfect for our dining room!

Of course the price tag of $350 for a 5×8 was a bit steep for us so I decided to create my own version using this design as my inspiration.

I know that one of the reasons area rugs can be expensive is because of the materials and craftsmanship involved. My rug wouldn’t be nearly as perfect or soft, but I was okay with that. When you have $20 you can spend on a rug, you have to make do with what you have. Besides, I really enjoy all of the stories behind the DIY projects in our home, and no one has anything exactly like it :)

The inspiration:

West-Elm-Phoenix Wool Dhurrie Rug

Here is the before photo of my 5×7 Remnant Rug:

Materials Needed:



Measuring Tape


Fabric Medium



foam brushes

Painter’s Tape

Cardboard Template of shapes to use {optional}


drop cloth/newspapers

Fabric Protector


90’s Music {optional}

By the way, one of my favorite ways to save money on rugs is to purchase remnant rugs from Home Depot or Lowes.  The rug I used in my office cost less than $30 and the one I’m sharing today was only $20! I always like to check to see what remnant rugs are in stock when I’m in there because it can be somewhat random, and you never know what you will find. I’m all about the treasure hunt so I’m okay with that :) It would have been nice to get one a bit larger but I figured 5×7 would do, especially for the price!


I already had the fabric medium on hand that you use to mix with your paint color since I had purchased it back when I bought the rug above, thinking I’d use it, but didn’t. I did actually use some of it on the DIY lace curtains I shared. I purchased the $20 remnant rug soon after we finished building our West Elm Inspired dining table, so I actually had everything on hand that I needed, woo-hoo! You can use acrylic or latex paint, and I just used some custom mixed navy and turquoise paint.  Just make sure that if you custom mix a paint color, that you make more than enough. The last thing you want is to run out of paint before your rug is finished.

The first thing I did was create the shape templates in illustrator. I’m not gonna lie, I suck at math and am a more visual person so I thought planning it out on the computer would be easier. Plus this way I could play around with where I wanted the shapes and what color to make them too. I actually still screwed it up, but I’ll get to that a little later…


I decided to create 3 separate shapes, enlarge them, and then printed each individual shape out from my home printer. Each shape took up a few pieces of paper so I used some of the Delicate Frog Tape to tape the pieces of paper together. I actually won a bunch of Frog Tape {YAY!} when I attended Haven, and I had never used the delicate kind before. It was perfect because it didn’t tear the paper and I even had to move it around a couple times.

After each shape was taped together I cut the shape out, then placed it on a piece of cardboard, traced it with a sharpie, and then cut out the new cardboard template. The cardboard template is what I used to “stencil” onto the rug. The photos below probably explain this better than I can.


I did this for all 3 shapes until I had 3 separate templates cut out of cardboard.


After I had all of my cardboard templates printed out I started marking out my measurements onto the rug using chalk as a guide for where my templates would start. This is when I realized I totally screwed up my plan.

When I enlarged the shapes on my computer I apparently made them too large, which threw off my original design plan. Oops. I had even tested out the first template to see how it would fit along the rug, but had only gone along the height of the rug, and not the width. This meant that I had to alter my design a bit and went with just 3 columns of vertical shapes. I considered re-printing and cutting the templates but decided just to roll with the punches instead.

It didn’t take long to line up where the shapes would go since I lined the first column against the edge and 3.5 inches apart, and then started the middle column smack dab in the center. I also used my original printed out shapes as a guide in addition to my cardboard templates {as seen in the photo below}. Once I had my template lined up I simply traced around it using a sharpie marker. I alternated between 2 different sharpies to make it easier when one was running low on ink.



This took a bit longer than expected and it was pretty late, so after I had traced all of the shapes I decided I would do the painting part the next day.



By the way, the paint dried slightly darker than it originally looked when I painted it on. Just FYI so you don’t end up with a color darker than you wanted. It’s probably best to test an area first to see if the color looks the way you want it to. I had started painting one of the patterns on my rug and then decided I wanted the color a bit lighter, so I just painted over the part I originally painted.


Before I started painting I put a couple of old tablecloths underneath the rug just to make sure no paint went through. You could use a dropcloth, newspapers, an old sheet, etc. The paint didn’t go through the rug at all actually, but better safe than sorry, right? I worked on the rug in our bedroom with the door shut so our pets wouldn’t run all over it or have their fur fly in the paint. Funny how as soon as a door shuts they freak out and wanna come in. If you have pets are yours the same way?

After I had my navy paint color mixed I used a foam brush {several actually} to apply the paint to the shapes on the rug. I originally tried a regular paint brush but found that the foam brushes worked much better. If you have really large shapes or stripes you could also use a foam roller.


After the paint had dried I actually went around and painted over the shapes one more time. A couple hours and many foam brushes later, my rug looked like this:


and my brushes looked like this:


Lol. Well, even when the foam part broke off I still used it to sorta squeegee the paint onto the rug. It worked surprisingly well and I wasn’t afraid to get a little messy.

I actually really liked how the rug looked with just the dark navy {it looks a bit darker in the photos then it does in person}. Our dining room doesn’t get too much light though and is super beige so I wanted to add a pop of turquoise to brighten it up a bit.

I was impatient so after a few hours it seemed dry enough so I went ahead and started painting around the edges of the pattern using a smaller paintbrush and some custom mixed turquoise paint. Don’t you just love how the paint is in an old tostitos jar? haha.



It was so much fun watching the rug transform before my eyes, talk about instant gratification! At first I was bummed that I screwed up my original design plan, because I really wanted to have more than 3 columns, but I still think it turned out pretty awesome. In fact, I think it worked out pretty good because now there is more contrast in the dining room with the additional white showing on the carpet.  

Here is the rug all finished:



I actually want to pick up some fabric protector to spray over it just to make sure all that hard work lasts. I will probably do that next weekend.

So what do you think? Have you painted a rug before or are you considering making one? I LOVE our new dining room rug and I will admit that the painted areas are a bit stiff but not too terrible and since it’s in the dining room and not the bedroom I’m totally cool with that.


I am including the templates I created in case you want to use them for your own home project – be that a rug, wall, furniture, art, etc. Just remember these are for personal use only :) If you do use them on a project I’d love to see it afterwards! The sizes of the templates are rather large and are not perfect, but hopefully you can get some use out of them. I am including each individual shape I used, and then all 3 scaled down as well. You don’t have to use the same pattern either, but can play around with the shapes to create a new one too!

Download FREE Printable Templates

Click on the download button below the images below to download the kilim Pattern Stencil Templates that you can use on a rug or any other design project.









These templates are for personal use only, and cannot be resold or redistributed.

 UPDATE: I’ve had this rug for about a year now and still LOVE it! It seems to have gotten softer over time – although the painted areas are still crunchy} and is holding up really well. I have no problems vacuuming it or doing spot cleaning. The best advice I could give is that if you create a custom color be sure to have extra set aside, or know exactly how you made it. There are a few spots where my cats have scratched the rug and it could use a couple touchups, but I don’t have the same paint so I’ll have to try to color match it.

Here are some photos of it in our dining room:



DIY Painted Rug and hand built table-UpcycledTreasures copy

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  1. says

    What an absolutely fabulous idea. I was confused while reading through your tutorial, thinking that your final rug was the inspiration rug. No one will ever know that you didn’t pay big bucks for your awesome rug.

    • says

      I find them in the same area as the decorative area rugs at HD or Lowes – sometimes 1 or 2 aisles over and some days they have white ones and other days they only have beige, brown, grey, etc. so it’s just a matter of keeping an eye out :) With your painting skills I can’t wait to see what you come up with!
      Katie @ Upcycled Treasures recently posted…5 Ways to Freshen InteriorsMy Profile

  2. says

    WOW! I love the design, the colors, everything. I’ve never seen anyone do this, but it’s a brilliant way to save money. I love a houseful of rugs too, but they can be so expensive. Great job!

  3. says

    I have never heard of Home Depot having remnant rugs before…where do you ask about them?

    This looks amazing. I would love a rug for my living room but I can’t find one I like for less than a hundred dollars…which is a bit steep for me. =)

  4. Karen says

    I love this so much! I have been wanting to paint a rug for a year at least. Can you tell me what the fabric medium does and how much you used? I just painted stripes on a drop cloth from Lowes that I tea-stained and am upholstering an old wooden rocking chair seat. The stripes are navy and look so cool (like vintage French linens). I am afraid that they may be stiff (I did not use any fabric medium-is that what it’s for?) and I am also afraid of it wearing off or worse, getting on someone’s clothes. Will the fabric protector prevent that? Thanks for any help you can give me. Again, very cool!!

    • says

      Hi Karen,

      Fabric or textile medium helps soften the fabric so it’s not as stiff, and also makes it more permanent. If you heat set it afterwards {like I did with my lace curtains} then it’s also washable. It’s also supposed to help the paint bond to the fabric without cracking. Just make sure to follow the directions when mixing :)

      You definitely could have used the fabric medium on your drop cloth so that when you wash it in the future it wouldn’t fade. If it’s dry it shouldn’t come off on anyone’s clothes though, and you can spray fabric protector on top which will make it easier to clean in the future if anything is spilled on it.

      Hope this helps!
      Katie @ Upcycled Treasures recently posted…FREE Printable for September {and monthly post roundup}My Profile

  5. Meg says

    This is insane! Great job Katie! I’m so jealous – I doubt our city Home Depot has such great rug remnant deals (though I will definitely keep an eye out now that you’ve tipped me off to it!)

  6. Judy says

    loved your rug. I’m redoing my bedroom in dark blues and white, but I haven’t been able to find a rug that I liked that didn’t cost a small fortune. I also like to make most of my own things, so thanks for the idea.

    • says

      I honestly LOVE this rug! It was in our dining room for the last 7 months, which doesn’t get a ton of traffic, and I actually just moved it into our living room. The painted areas are a bit more crunchy than the non-painted areas, but they have softened over time and the color is still really good. I definitely say go for it! :)
      Katie @ Upcycled Treasures recently posted…The Makers Link Party #57My Profile

  7. mj says

    This is awesome! So glad I came across your blog. I’ve been trying to find a cheap alternative to a PB Teen rug for my daughter’s room. My only concern is whether painting an entire rug will make it too “crunchy”. Do you think if I add enough fabric medium it will help soften the paint so that it’s not too hard for my daughter to sit and play on?

  8. says

    It’s days like this, when I find a project like yours, that I’m SO happy we live in a pinterest time! I’ve been drooling over a similar rug, but didn’t want to shell out the cash for it. Can’t wait to try this!

  9. nancy says

    Now that time has passed, could you please let us know how durable it turned out to be? did the design rub or flake off? fade in trafficed part? tia

    • says

      Hi Nancy, I recently posted this year update to the bottom of the post:

      UPDATE: I’ve had this rug for about a year now and still LOVE it! It seems to have gotten softer over time {although the painted areas are still crunchy} and is holding up really well. I have no problems vacuuming it or doing spot cleaning. The best advice I could give is that if you create a custom color be sure to have extra set aside, or know exactly how you made it. There are a few spots where my cats have scratched the rug and it could use a couple touchups, but I don’t have the same paint so I’ll have to try to color match it.
      Katie @ Upcycled Treasures recently posted…Ways to use Corrugated Metal in Interior DesignMy Profile


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